Korea to Start Aging a Decade from Now

      January 22, 2009 07:40

      A decade from now, Korean society will be characterized by a smaller population, aging, and poverty among the elderly, with a high academic background for many people and an even bigger income gap.

      The predictions come in a report on social change released Tuesday by the National Statistical Office. The NSO predicts that the country's population will begin dwindling after hitting a peak of 49.34 million in 2018 as the birthrate remains low. Some 7.16 million baby-boomers who have led the education, housing and labor markets over the past 30-odd years will begin retiring in five to 10 years. Those two factors will have wide-ranging effects on various aspects of society, such as a declining economy, sluggish demand for housing, and a decrease in school-age population.

      But with singles and the homebound elderly population increasing, the number of single-person households will increase to 3.98 million or 21 percent of all households by 2018, from 3.36 million or 20 percent last year, the NSO forecast.

      The aging society will lead to a larger number of the destitute and a larger incidence of suicide among the elderly. People aged 65 and older will outnumber children under 14 by 2016, and the country will become an aging society in 2018, with those 65 and older accounting for more than 14 percent of the population.

      The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality of income distribution for the population over 60, has worsened from 0.325 in 2000 to 0.366 in 2007. That means an increase in the destitute elderly population will likely work as a factor for an increase in suicides.

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